By Eileen Stephan

Managing Director, Citi Graduate Recruiter and Program Management

Long recognized as a critical source of new talent to an organization, campus recruiting programs are an essential component of a firm’s overall staffing strategy and, by extension, a means to advance diversity recruiting. University graduates provide an excellent source of new talent for today’s corporations, and tapping into the diverse campus candidate pool is a logical, necessary component of any recruiting program. Yet, to be successful, first you have to understand the diverse campus talent market.

A challenge facing all organizations in the United States is the relatively small pool of diverse talent at the university and graduate school level. While the overall number of students enrolled in college continues to trend up, the combined number of Native American, black and Hispanic students is estimated at only 16 percent of the total undergraduate population, and only 8 percent of top business school populations. Graduation statistics are also telling. While 60 percent of white students graduate within six years, only 40 percent of black students and 48 percent of Hispanic students obtain degrees.

“I strongly believe that it is in a firm’s strategic best interest to support efforts to increase the pipeline and to have a more tailored approach in its campus recruiting strategy.”

As a result, the competition for diverse campus talent is fierce. As an executive who has specialized in talent development and recruiting for more than 20 years, I strongly believe that it is in a firm’s strategic best interest to support efforts to increase the pipeline (as Citi’s Foundation is committed to doing) and to have a more tailored approach in its campus recruiting strategy.

Campus programs are efficient because they focus on scale (partner with ten campuses and develop a pipeline of multiple students for entry level roles), but a successful diversity recruiting effort is, in practice, just the opposite. It is individual to the candidate. In fact, we know that experienced diverse candidates evaluate a firm and role based on personal interactions with employees and recruiters, and choose a firm because those interactions provide a level of comfort that the candidate will be valued. It is no different for the diverse campus candidate and often far more significant when it is the student’s first true job search experience. So the challenge comes in layering a tailored, personalized recruiting experience on top of one built for scale.

In my view, there is no “one size fits all” diversity recruiting strategy. Rather, it requires an approach and philosophy that must be flexible, nimble, and constantly reviewed and updated. At Citi, we recognize that a diverse recruiting strategy is a corporate value that must be owned by the business and senior management, yet be managed and approached creatively by an experienced recruiting team. Outreach and recruiting programs on one campus may not translate to another, and what works for undergraduates may not work for MBAs.

Recognizing that a personalized approach is necessary to attract and hire diverse campus candidates, with a focus on the long-term rather than one recruiting cycle, is critical to successfully advancing campus diversity recruiting.

Eileen Stephan joined Citi in July 2008 to support campus recruiting programs. She has spent over 20 years working in university career services roles as well as with corporations on campus recruiting efforts.